Radical Unschooling · Neurodivergence

Blind Leading the Blind…

First of all, my apologies for not getting this one out on Thursday like I should have. But been dealing with NHS BS, which yet again proved ‘No one is coming’…not even for a physical illness. Then yesterday…well, I think I spent the day in live rehearsal of this one.

Today’s blog title is a saying from my childhood. One I heard many times from my Nanny. I have shared this story many times…

I was raised primarily by my great-grandmother, my Nanny. We lived in what was called a mill village. You see in the American South when a textile factory was built they most often built dozens small wood frame houses around it that they sold to the workers. Back in the days when you had company doctors and company stores too. Of course, Nanny and her friends had retired by the time I came along but they still lived in the houses they had bought near the mill.

As a child I grew up with women in their 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s as my only friends. I learned to sew, crochet and make apple butter before I could read. Don’t feel sorry for me. It was not a bad childhood. I was surrounded by love and never knew bullying until I went to school.

But one woman in particular stands out. Miss Ethel. She was our next door neighbor. The polar opposite of my Nanny, but her best friend nonetheless. Miss Ethel died her hair platinum blond, laid out in her backyard in a bikini, and reminded me of the 70s television character Maude.

Miss Ethel would come over after supper. Nanny would dye her hair as they reminisced about old times, usually the Great Depression. I remember one story especially well. There was one winter that was especially tough. After the company took the house payments out of their wages there was not much leftover from their husbands’ paychecks. Enough for a bit of flour, butter and milk. One of them had a vegetable patch with onions and the other an old hen for eggs. That whole winter they fed their families on suppers of biscuits with eggs and onions. You see they knew a secret that we have forgotten…

Sharing what you do have with others.

Now you kow where I learned that ‘No One Is Coming’. But through it all they shared what little they did have. Like the old fable of stone soup, it was always enough. Yesterday, I was sharing with my best friend about another tradition from my childhood…pounding.

Growing up, we did not have food pantries. But a few times a year especially at the holidays our church would collect food and money. Then the preacher and a couple of the deacons would take boxes of it around to the families in need in our community…church members or not. Nanny and I often received a box of it. I remember these cans of hominy (a strange corn/grits product that no one eats anymore). Every time that the church was collecting food, Nanny would pull them out and send them to church with me. And sure enough, every time we received a box…there those same cans were. Until they eventually got a bit rusty around the edges.

That was the world I grew up in. And the second biggest lesson I learned after…No One Is Coming to Save You…was…

So Save Yourself…and Yes, you are your brother’s keeper.

To the bottom of my heart, I believe that government can never, ever, never be big enough to replace that…COMMUNITY.

You see community has something that government never will have…a true understanding, grasp of the problems that its members face. It also has the ability to respond quicker, meeting the needs of the individual rather than simply providing a one-size fits all approach. We CAN and SHOULD take care of our own. We hold the solutions…for ourselves and others.

But I can’t! You don’t understand…I can’t help anyone. I can’t even save myself.

You are wrong about that. We ALL have something to give. Even if we don’t feel like it. Even on our worst day.

After a car accident a few years ago, I was given intensive outpatient therapy for PTSD. It was the latest, vogue one on offer…Dialectal Behavioral Therapy. It combined Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with mindfulness. It is also the only therapy that I have ever found useful. Do you know what I found MOST useful about it?

The self-help support group.

Yes, in times of trouble I keep coming back to several of its core themes. They have proven more useful than any of the more traditional psychotherapies and CBT that I have been offered on NHS. But even those lack the same healing power without peer support.

That therapy was truly INTENSIVE. Sitting around a table with two dozen other ‘patients’ every weekday for two weeks…or maybe more. Everything from severe mental illness to a woman who was grieving her husband to a man who had lost his job to my fears around the car accident. We all had our turn to talk…and you know what…more than once I found the kernels of truth that I needed in the words of someone much ‘worse off’ than me. Even the drug abuser had something to give me.

More in fact than I ever got from my one hour a week one-on-one with the psychiatrist. Years later, after my miscarriage, it was once again the support of other mental health users that I found my greatest tool for recovery.

And yesterday as four Moms with neurodivergent sat in my living room just chatting, I knew once again that power. We might not have agreed on everything. We were most definitely at different points on our journeys. But we all had something to share and give. After a few weeks of struggles of a different kind, I know it was certainly what I needed.

Going back to that burning building analogy that I began with…in those types of situations, stories always come out of the courage of individuals who ‘saved’ others. Average Joe’s and Jane’s who are caught in that same situation, yet find the strength to lead others out of that burning building. True heroes…not to minimize the valor of police and firemen…professionals…’experts’…but they have been trained for that. It is their job. They have all this knowledge of how to fight fires.

But they don’t know that building!

So too is it with neurodivergence…and home education. We know what it is like. We know this building. We know where fires can start. We know escape routes. And I hope we take the time to learn one another. Because that is where we will find our greatest strengths in times of trouble….in those fires…and long, cold, hungry winters.

So it is time this girl put her money where her mouth is. I have known for some time that I have a responsibility to be one of ‘citizen’ fire fighters leading others out of the burning building. But there was always some reason…PanKwake’s sleep, Cookie Monster’s work, the work on #HomeCrazzyHome, then the arthritis. No more!

living room 4 feature

Beginning next week, Thursday morning #HomeCrazzyHome is open for any and all of my friends struggling with neurodivergence and/or home education. Coffee (heck, even tea), cookies and an open heart and mind on offer. It might not be much but I believe we will find it is more than enough. Contact me via Facebook or email (links on side bar) for address and directions.

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